Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Bunny versus The Cross

I think that it is so uncalled for that we have all bought into this whole "blowing up a holiday into extraordinary and difficult-to-fulfill measures" thing.

You know what I mean.

Halloween: purchase an expensive and cheaply-made costume for every one of your kids (my eight children have learned to make their own and help the little ones make theirs, too. I'm not buying into it). Purchase eight million tons of candy to hand out to all the little munchkins dressed up in their expensive and cheaply made (or possibly home-made costumes, it is becoming the trend, after all) costumes when they ring your doorbell and holler, "Trick or Treat!", only the nicest way to say, "Can I please have some candy?". After running around from house to house in the closest, most well-to-do lots-of-candy-giving-out neighborhoods in your area (of course, you drive your kids there) with all the other little hooligans in the town to solicit candy, you haul your children home with their loot. (I must admit, I do like all the scary music, decor and real-life scary set-ups and watching the children have fun.) You get home and dig through the candy - and deal with off-the-wall candy-high children for weeks straight.

Thanksgiving: Eat til you're stuffed. Then eat dessert. Then watch the game and take a nap. Then, eat some more.

Christmas: How many presents did you get? Did Santa bring what you asked for? Decorating the Christmas tree, sending out Christmas cards, letters to Santa, Christmas wish lists, crowded, crazy holiday shopping. Presents piled as high under the tree as our wallets could stand on Christmas morning. Of course, don't forget the Christmas baking, all the cookies, candies and cakes. Oh, and the decorating of the food, the house, the tree. Holiday light display contests - who can have the biggest and baddest light display with coordinated Christmas music? And, now, we're supposed to remember to come up with some mischievious thing that this little bad elf does for the children to discover every day. Then, kids now want expensive iPads and iPods and smartphones and Sony PS3's for Christmas! What ever happened to a few great toys under the tree?

Valentine's Day: Valentine's Day has turned into the "love" version of Halloween. Have you seen the loot that kids bring home from school on Valentine's Day?! When I was a kid, we exchanged little individualized Valentine's Day cards. Men would buy pretty flowers or a box of chocolates for their loves. But now, it's about the decorated desserts, wads and wads of candy, huge boxes of chocolates, not one, but two dozen roses. People decorate just as much as Christmas with hearts and cupids and red, red, red.

St. Patrick's Day It used to be that we just threw on a green shirt and said, "Happy St. Patrick's Day" to everyone we walked by. We also might sporadically fake an Irish accent to say, "The luck of the Irish!" while drinking a dark brew and enjoying the corned beef and cabbage and soda bread. We might even make it down to the local St. Patrick's Day parade, or if we live in Chicago, we may have been to the watch the Chicago River turn green, an annual tradition for St. Patrick's Day. Let's up the ante! Kids are now looking for the "lucky coin hunt". This is similar to the Easter Egg hunt, only the leprechaun hides lucky coins (I didn't even know the leprechaun made house visits!). They want lime sherbert floats, specially decorated St. Patrick's Day cupcakes, four leaf clover face paintings, and are we now exchanging St. Patty's Day cards, like Valentine's Day?

And, now...

Easter: The Easter Bunny! Easter Egg Hunts! More candy than any of the other holidays combined, stuffed into Easter Baskets. Chocolate bunnies, Cadbury Eggs, Easter cupcakes, Easter brunch, Easter parades, pretty Easter dresses! Dying eggs has become a competition of the utmost artistic skills, then don't forget to pin the pics on Pinterest, share them on Facebook and Tweet about them! Did you know that Easter is now #4 on the list for popular holidays to send cards? And, don't forget the ham dinner as we celebrate Spring...

Now, hold on just a moment! It's not about the bunny, my fellow parents!

Somehow, we've managed to completely obliterate the true meanings of these holidays. Go ahead and ask your child, "What do you think about when I say, 'Easter'?". What would their first response be? Would they mention the resurrection of Jesus? "How about 'Christmas'?". The birth of our Christ? Sadly, most kids won't. Not at first thought, anyways. You can't blame them for it.

Why do we continue to dig ourselves into this endless hole of holiday expectations? Some people have turned the holidays into unrealistic expectations for a mother like me, with eight children. Maybe it's fun for you, with your one or two children, to make the holidays a big whirlwind of candy and presents and decorations and activities. But when you raise that bar of expectations for your kids, my kids hear about it and then they expect me to jump through hoops to make each holiday as big and crazy as you've made it!

Stop! Stop! Stop!

Holidays are beyond "going overboard" now, and it's because of you! You parents who buy not only the candy and chocolate bunnies, but also the kites and the purses and the PRESENTS for Easter! You parents scrambling to come up with the bestest naughty things your elf can do every single night! You parents who hide the lucky coins on St. Patrick's Day! Just Stop!

You're making it hard for those of us who want to teach our children what the holidays are really about!

I don't mind doing the holiday traditions that I grew up with doing as a kid with my own children, I don't. As a matter of fact, I love to see their smiles and excitement. I don't even mind telling the little white lies that come along with holidays that have been told to children for decades (centuries?) to maintain the "magic" that each holiday brings. I do love to see the light displays at Christmasttime and hear the holiday music on every station on the radio. I love experiencing the haunted houses, stuffing myself with holiday dinners and desserts until I'm passing out, and the overall excitement that the children radiate.

What I don't like is being forced to make each holiday bigger and more spectacular than the last. Competing against the parents who feel like the "traditional" traditions are not enough anymore.

I don't like wondering what my children are expecting each holiday - we need to bring things back down to a "normal" level of expectations so we, as parents, know what we're supposed to be doing. There's nothing worse than my children coming home from school after a holiday and telling me that their classmate, Johnny, got a new PS3 and ten games and a tablet for Easter! (Why did the Easter Bunny only bring us candy and hide Easter eggs for us?)

Give me a break! And give other parents a break! Bring things back down to a dull roar, the "normal" traditions that we all grew up with.

I can handle that.

Then, let's make sure that our kids know the real reasons we are celebrating these holidays. Maybe you're not religious. Maybe you don't want to make the holidays about their true meaning. Okay, so then don't celebrate them. Just don't make it hard on those of us parents who want our children to understand the true meaning of holidays, and don't blow every single darn holiday up to be something they were never meant to be!

Happy Easter! (Remember, it's not all about the Bunny!)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Guide To Girls' Hair - Book Review

Yesterday, I talked about the different categories for hair in "When Your Daughter's Hair Isn't Your 'Type'". Today, I want to tell you about this awesome book called Cozy's Complete Guide To Girls' Hair: The Cutest Cuts and Sweetest Hairstyles to Do at Home by Cozy Friedman.

This book is packed full of tons of how-to's, from a wide variety of styles including 5-minute styles, to how to cut different types of hair, to which hair utensils to use. There are definitions for every possible word associated with hair. For example, one page defines words like cuticle, cortex, medulla. Another section explains the different types of hair and how to "handle" them.

From detangling hair to sectioning hair to caring for hair during the summer and caring for it during the winter, Cozy Friedman has thought of and shared it all in her book!

Then, there are absolutely stunning ideas (and step-by-step instructions) for hair styles. Braids, pigtails, buns, and styles that include adornments for the hair, like ribbons and flowers. One of my favorites is the Heart Braid:

And, the answers to the most common hair catastrophies, like head lice, gum stuck in hair, dandruf, green hair, and static cling are all in this book!

I have enjoyed every moment of Cozy's Complete Guide To Girls' Hair: The Cutest Cuts and Sweetest Hairstyles to Do at Home. The organization of the book makes it easy to look up topics, just in case you run into a hair catastrophy and need to find the information fast, or if you're planning to do a quick trim to your daughter's hair and want to check out the tips beforehand.

Definitely a must-have for your library, whether you have daughters, nieces, or granddaughters!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Being an SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) Parent

I will always remember the moment that my daughter's speech therapist told me the results of her assessment: Veronica had Sensory Processing Disorder (otherwise known as “sensory integration dysfunction").

I wrote Veronica's Story back in June of 2011, but recent interactions with a friend who just found out that her son has SPD and a couple of associates of mine who are struggling with the intricacies of SPD that affect their childrens behavior have spurred my mind (and fingers) to type up another article about SPD.

If you haven't read my daughter's story, you may want to read that first (click here). It has a lot of basic information about SPD if your child was just recently diagnosed with it.

To protect the privacy of people, I won't mention names, but I was chatting with a friend on Facebook about a week ago. Her son was recently diagnosed with SPD, and she felt just like I did when I had found out about Veronica. You see, Sensory Processing Disorder is a quirky disorder that has the ability to drive parents of affected children nuts, especially if a diagnosis has not been made. By the time the diagnosis has been made, many parents (like me) are entirely frustrated and fed up.

What is SPD Like?

Imagine a child with a bit of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Alzheimer's, and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder - not the hyperactive one, ADHD). Swirl together the obvious characteristics of these disorders and then add "behavior problems", social problems, anxiety, and aggressiveness...Or, mix and match some of the above - no SPD is the same. There are no "typical" SPD cases. And, that's why Sensory Processing Disorders are quite often misdiagnosed, leaving parents and teachers baffled, confused, and frustrated with the child.

Basically, Sensory Processing Disorder is a chronic difficulty with processing information from the senses. The brain and the senses aren't working together like they are supposed to. Occupational therapist and neuroscientist, A. Jean Ayres, PhD, called SPD a "neurological traffic jam", referring to how the disorder prevents specific areas of the brain from getting the data that is necessary in order to correctly make sense of the sensory information.

But, it also causes issues that may seem absolutely strange to people who do not have the disorder. For example, my daughter cannot stand the sound of keys jingling like most of us cannot stand the sound of fingernails scraping down a chalk board.

Additionally, the frustration that a child with SPD feels may lead to what we would usually categorize as "behavior problems". This is exactly what made me feel so bad when I found out that Veronica had SPD...what I once thought were "behavior issues" was actually her way of getting out the frustration of not being understood or not being able to understand herself.

Being an SPD Parent

I will say that, in my experience, being an SPD parent does get easier over time. You will learn coping strategies and, as time goes on, you can teach your child how to cope, too.

And, while this is easier said than done, ultimately, this is your only choice, because you want your child to be able to thrive in this world without you holding their hand for everything they do. You want them to be able to live a fulfilled life.

Check out the Mommy Rantings Facebook wall today for a question from an SPD mommy.

When Your Daughter's Hair Isn't Your "Type"

When you're a mom that has straight hair with a tiny bit of natural wave in it, like mine, and you have a daughter with seriously thick, spiral curls, like my daughter's, you realize quickly that you cannot do the same things to your daughter's hair as you do to your own. Quite often, you cannot even use the same types of products on the different types of hair.

While it's obvious to anyone that there are many different hair types, there was a point in my life when I didn't realize that there was a hair typing "chart". Have you ever heard of Type 3c hair? Or, Type 1 hair?

What does it all mean and how can you make it work for you and your daughter's hair? 

I'm not going to explain each "type" of hair, because it can't be said much better than the explanation here. If you are not familiar with the different hair types, to put it simply, straight hair is categorized as Type 1, while the thickest, coarsest, curliest hair is categorized as a Type 4. Then, a's, b's and c's are used under each number to differentiate between the types of curls or waves in the hair.

My Daughter's Hair is NOT My Type

I would say that my hair is a mixture of Type 1 and 2. That's because I have long, straight hair, but it does have a bit of a natural wave in it, which will make my hair a bit frizzy if I don't use some oil in the back of it (never in the roots, though! That would make my hair look greasy!).

My Type 1/2 Hair

My daughter, on the other hand, has enviously thick, spiral curly hair. I would say that she falls into the 3c group, which at one time did not exist as a category, but needed to be added, because poor 3c-haired girls didn't fit into the 3b or 4 category descriptions exactly. In the picture below, I used a popular LOC method for curly hair, but doubled up on the oils, rather than using a cream. L=water, O=argon oil and coconut oil. Then, I separated the curls apart to give it body and style.

My Daughter's Gorgeous Hair

The characteristics 3c hair has that others don't? 

Corkscrew-like kinky or very tight curls with a straw or pencil sized circumference (in other words, you could insert a straw or a pencil and it would fit perfectly inside one of the spiral curls). This type of hair usually has tons of strands of hair that are dense and packed together.

My daughter is just like every other curly haired chick that despises their hair. She has straightened it for something different (and it actually came out beautiful!) Of course, straightening 3c hair is more difficult than straightening 3a or 3b hair because it is thicker and curlier. Surprisingly, though, even though there are lots and lots of strands of hair that makes the head of hair of a 3c girl or woman appear to have thick hair, the thickness is usually due to the amount of strands, rather than the strands itself, because 3c curls are usually, contrary to what we would think, fine-textured strands. 

Using Hair Typing to Understand Our Daughter's Hair

I read reviews on myriads of different products, regardless of which hair type it is for, for two reasons:

1) I have to look for products for both my daughter's hair and my hair.
2) Even though someone with super curly, thick hair gives a product a bad review doesn't mean that it's bad for every hair type. What works for my hair may give bad results to my daughter's hair.

By knowing about the categories of hair types, you will better understand which products to use for your daughter's hair (and even your hair!) and which types of styles, which types of tools, etc. While scanning around the Internet, I realized that these hair categories are mentioned a lot, and if someone doesn't know about them, they aren't going to completely understand why certain utensils or products work and don't work.

For example, let's say I read a review about a specific brush and a styling gel that someone swears by. If I don't know anything about the hair categories, I might run out and purchase the products and be totally let down with the results on my hair. However, if I know that the reviewer has Type 4 hair, though, I might think twice about purchasing the products for my hair, because what works for a Type 4 won't necessarily work for a Type 1/2.

To further explain, some of the products that Type 4 hair gals use that wouldn't work well on mine are the oils. Coconut oils, argon oils, etc. help to define the curls and provide much-needed moisture to the Type 4 hair (even Type 3 hair), but these oils can weigh down my hair and make it look greasy. I do, because of the waviness and potential frizziness, use a lightweight oil called BioSilk to keep my hair smooth and shiny.

Hair Types and Styling

It's a similar concept for different types of hair styles. While it would be extremely easy for me to straighten my hair (and it takes no time) and I don't require any styling products while I straighten it, I would have to set aside several hours to straighten my daughter's hair and know which products to add while I'm straightening it, too.

Just like products, some styles will work for some hair types and some will work for others, but not all hair styles are going to work for all hair types.

The same goes for styling utensils. A brush that works wonders for my hair will probably wreak havoc on my daughter's hair and vice versa.  

This is why learning about the different hair types and how each one works with different products and styling utensils will help you not only understand and work with your own hair better, it will also help you when you are working on your daughter's hair.

How is your daughter's hair the same or different from yours? What helps you?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Co-Sleeping Controversy - Why I Don't Obey the Rules

Despite the warnings and scare tactics, thirteen years ago, I decided that bed-sharing was the best option for me and my first son.

Back then, I wasn't the educated mom that I consider myself to be today, after bearing and raising eight children. Back then, I wouldn't DARE tell the pediatrician that they should check their facts. Back then, thirteen years ago, I would either lie and say that my child slept in a bassinet or a crib or I would try to avoid the question altogether.

Just recently, though, when I took my eighth child to her new doctor, I once again received the brow-beating that pediatricians now give co-sleeping parents. Basically, her standpoint was that I was taking a HUGE risk and was putting my baby's LIFE in harm's way! And, I also had a recent conversation with another "child advocate" about my choice to co-sleep and was again told how dangerous it was and that I should get a crib, just in case my pediatrician called CPS on me for admitting that I co-slept with my baby. To this, I asked, "Why? Where is the LAW that states I cannot co-sleep with my baby? In addition, SHOW ME the real, hard statistics that say that the adult bed is less safe than the crib. Too many babies have died in cribs, too!" I knew she couldn't produce these laws and facts, because they don't exist.

Today, unlike when I was a new mother with my first few children, I will be honest (for a long time, I was forced to be what I call a "closet co-sleeping parent". I would lie to the doctor, the WIC office, etc. about our sleeping habits. Yes, my child slept in a bassinet or a crib. Now, I openly, honestly and self-righteously tell the pediatrician that I co-sleep with my babies. (Yes, we think that the so-called "family-bed" is the right choice for our family.)

Today, I'm far more educated and can back up my parenting strategies and techniques with hard facts, statistics, and research.

Today, I'm going to tell you why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the majority of individual pediatricians are WRONG and how they are sadly misinforming parents. I have yet to take my children to a pediatrician who agreed that bed-sharing was SAFER for babies, and they certainly won't talk about what a great bonding experience it can be.

Well, I have done my research and I'm going to tell you why I believe that the family bed IS SAFER. And, I'll also elaborate on the bonding experience that it provides, even when we're sleeping.

Bed-Sharing Deaths vs. Crib Deaths

If you're a parent, then you probably know that the co-sleeping controversy stems from the infant deaths that have occurred in adult beds. But, did you know that the scare tactics that are being used to persuade parents into using cribs, which has become a national campaign against bed-sharing, actually started as a joint effort of the USCPSC and the JPMA?

Let me spell that out for you...the USCPSC is the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the JPMA is the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association. Well, isn't that a hoot, considering that if we parents believe that our beds are unsafe for our babies, then we would have to...purchase a crib (otherwise known as a product - or juvenile product)!

But, I'm not going to base my entire claim that co-sleeping is safer than cribs on the fact that two associations who fair to gain from the "you have to use a crib or your child will die" campaign are ahead of it all. I have hard facts and statistics for you, too.

The Crib vs. Adult Bed Research

Let's talk about the research. And, let's start with Dr. Sears, who was the first person to say that co-sleeping was good for babies - and parents! Dr. Sears also co-slept with his children. He says that when parents ask him, "Where should my baby sleep?", he responds by telling the parent that they should have their baby sleep wherever baby and parent sleep best. Period.

Dr. McKenna is a well-known SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) researcher who will testify that the adult bed is safer than a crib. His testimony is the result of 30 years of research and you can read his article "Co-Sleeping and Biological Imperatives: Why Human Babies Do Not and Should Not Sleep Alone". But, basically, if you don't want to read the article, Dr. McKenna discusses several topics, including how sleeping next to your baby is "biologically appropriate", different organizations that DO support bed-sharing, and that the family bed environment can be made to be SAFER than the crib.

According to Dr. McKenna, the following organizations support the family bed:
  • The Academy of Breast Feeding Medicine 
  • The USA Breast Feeding Committee 
  • The Breast Feeding section of the American Academy of Pediatrics 
  • La Leche League International 
  • WHO
The common thought amongst these groups, as well as Dr. McKenna, is that our ancestral mothers bed-shared due to breastfeeding. Why shouldn't we?

Dr. Margot Sunderland, the director of education and training from The Centre for Child Mental Health in London agrees with Dr. McKenna's stance on co-sleeping, as well. She says that children whose parents co-slept with them tend to grow up to be calmer, healthier adults, and they also may experience less amounts of stress than children who slept in cribs alone. Her book, The Science of Parenting, explains her opinion on bed-sharing.

In Dr. Sunderland's book, she uses evidence from 800 different scientific studies to prove her theory, that co-sleeping is by far healthier than an infant sleeping alone. Many of the studies that Dr. Sunderland examined included brain scans to find out how infants' and kids' brains react in particular situations. She says that cortisol, a hormone that is related to stress, is increased in the infant body when they are separated from their parents.

One neurological study even revealed that the brain activity of an infant who is separated from a parent showed similarities to exhibiting physical pain! (And then we have the parents who let their babies CIO - "cry it out"! I'm not trying to judge here, but just imagine putting these two concepts together. Infants who sleep alone in cribs exhibiting signs of physical pain in their brain scans and then the parents practicing the CIO method. What exactly does the baby LEARN from this? When they are in pain, they cry and no one comes to comfort them?)  

Dr. Sunderland says that children should sleep with their parents up until they are 5 years old for maximum benefits and that this long-term co-sleeping is much healthier for children than sleeping alone.

Meredith F. Small, the author of Our Babies, Ourselves: How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent, says that according to studies, when a mother co-sleeps with her baby, the infant learns how to regulate his or her heartbeat, breathing, muscle movements, and brain wave activity. These same studies revealed that infants who sleep alone experience a difficult time regulating their body functions. These infants are also fussier and have more sporadic breathing.


The Biggest Co-Sleeping Fear

I can understand that some people may sleep like logs, but I am not one of them. One tiny inkling of a whimper from one of my children, and I'm wide awake. This goes right along with how Dr. McKenna describes bed-sharing mothers. As long as they are not inebriated with alcohol, sleep medications, or endless nights of sleeplessness, the doc suggested that "breastfeeding mother-infant pairs exhibit increased sensitivities and responses to each other while sleeping, and those sensitivities offers the infant protection from overlay".

This takes care of the biggest co-sleeping fear - or scare tactic, if you want to call it - that you will roll over on your infant during the night and suffocate him or her.

The Statistics

I told you that I would back up my choice with real, hard statistics, so you're probably wondering at this point,"Where are the REAL facts and statistics?" After all, all I have done is talk about some doctors' opinions, which goes against the majority of doctors and organizations across America.

First, let's talk about Japan. In Japan, the bed-sharing is a normal practice in their culture. You won't hear a Japanese pediatrician (unless they are practicing in America, of course) claim that the family bed is a big no-no.

Get this: Japan has the lowest SIDS rates in the world. Additionally, the SIDS Global Task Force conducted an international survey which revealed that cultures, like Japan, that practiced the highest amount of bed-sharing and co-sleeping produced the lowest SIDS rates. Food for thought...

Are these facts still too vague for you? No problem, I have more.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted a study about SIDS that was released in 1999. Here's what they came up with:

  • There were 515 cases of accidental deaths of infants in adult beds between 1990 and 1997. If broken down by year, there was an average of 65 infant deaths each year in adult beds.
  • During the same period of time, there were 34,000 total SIDS cases. That breaks down to about 4,250 cases each year. 
So, to look at an average year, we would compare the 65 deaths that occurred in adult beds versus the 4,250 total SIDS cases. I'll figure it out quickly for you. That means that only 1.5% of the total SIDS cases each year occurred in adult beds. And, where did the other deaths occur? The study didn't say it, so we can't necessarily assume that the other 98.5% of infants died in cribs, but wouldn't you say that this "Bed-sharing Is a Big No-No!" is a bit unfounded at this point?

What needs to be done is a REAL comparison of SIDS deaths in the adult bed versus SIDS deaths in a crib to ensure that there are no misconceptions. Until this type of study is conducted, I still would wager that the majority of the 98.5% of deaths did, in fact, occur in cribs, bassinets, playpens, and other products that were being used in order to avoid the family bed.

How Is A Crib Safer?

I understand that there are numerous SIDS cases that still haven't been solved. The parents will never know what the exact cause of death was for their infant. However, I am also well aware that crib deaths have occurred due to all kinds of different safety issues.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted a study that was outlined in the report "Hazard Analysis: Crib Related Deaths". Here are just some of the crib safety issues that posed a threat of death:

  • Positional asphyxia/suffocation due to bedding in the crib (including bumpers!)
  • Hardware problems
  • Entrapment between object and crib
  • The child was entangled in blind cords hanging too close to crib
  • Entrapment between side rail and mattress
  • Improper mattresses
  • Structural failure
  • Entrapment due to improper slat placement
So, how can anyone say that a crib is safer than the family bed at this point? Obviously, more specified research needs to be conducted to compare the exact amount of infant deaths in the adult bed versus the crib (and other recommended sleeping products for babies) before we continue to brow-beat co-sleeping mothers!

The Benefits of Bed-Sharing

Besides the fact that it's been so much easier and faster to tend to an infant (especially my breastfed infants) during the night when they are right next to me, there is actually a list of benefits that both mothers and children can reap from co-sleeping. Some of these benefits were already discussed earlier in The Research section, like the baby's ability to better regulate their body functions and the lowering of stress of an infant. 

First, as I mentioned, the breastfeeding. Because the baby is right beside Mommy, it is much easier for the mother to breastfeed her baby as many times as the baby wants during the night. The more she can breastfeed, the more "good stuff" the baby gets, the healthier the baby. And because co-sleeping makes it so much more convenient for the mother to breastfeed, she will be more likely to breastfeed longer, and the longer a mother breastfeeds, the lower her chances are of getting breast cancer.

Dr. McKenna also pointed out that "irrepressible (ancient) neurologically-based infant responses to maternal smells, movements and touch altogether reduce infant crying while positively regulating infant breathing, body temperature, absorption of calories, stress hormone levels, immune status, and oxygenation." They cry less frequently and sleep longer. What mom doesn't want that?

In layman's terms, co-sleeping increases the amount of time that an infant will sleep, because they are subconsciously content and tend to be in sync with their Mommy when they are sleeping next to her. After all, they've been inside of your body for 9 months. What makes anyone think that a baby would want to be very far away from their "home"?

This makes sense, because there's this thing called "nature". And, if you think about other mammals, like dogs and cats, you will realize that most mammals sleep curled up with their young. Why shouldn't we do the same?

Another benefit of bed-sharing is that you can tend to your baby's needs more quickly. If your baby is sleeping in a crib in another room, or even across the bedroom, it takes more time to get to them, and you may not even hear their cries when they first start calling for you. When they are right next to you, you not only hear them right away, you are right next to them to comfort them immediately, and this is the exact type of reassurance that your new little person needs. Additionally, your baby doesn't have to wake so fully when they are right next to you and they are attended to quickly, meaning they can get back to sleep faster and easier.

Bonding time is increased to include all night long when you choose the family bed. While you may not be interacting, the baby can still smell and feel you, hence increasing that bond.

Co-sleeping babies also develop better sleep habits next to mommy.

Long-Term Co-Sleeping Benefits

In the long-term, research has also shown that co-sleeping promotes higher self-esteem. For example, boys whose parents co-slept with them them between the ages of birth and five years had much higher self-esteem. They also experienced less anxiety and guilt.

Women whose parents co-slept with them as babies showed less discomfort with affection and physical contact when they became adults.

A study of military based parents (Forbes et al., 1992) also showed that co-sleeping children's teacher evaluations were significantly higher in the behavior category, as opposed to children whose parents did not let them sleep in the family bed. To compliment this study, another study in England (Heron, 1994) revealed that children who did not enjoy the family bed tended to be less happy, harder to control, were more fearful, and exhibited a larger amount of temper tantrums than their co-sleeping counterparts.   

Another study that was conducted amongst 5 ethnic groups from large U.S. cities revealed that co-sleepers in each ethnic category were generally more satisfied with life than those whose parents did not let them sleep in the adult bed (Mosenkis, 1998).

What Stance Should Pediatricians Take Then?

So, now we come back to the subject of pediatric recommendations. What should pediatricians be telling parents? First of all, let's stop the scare tactics and brow-beating!

This is not strictly my opinion. All of the researchers that I have mentioned earlier would tend to agree that instead of brow-beating parents who co-sleep, they should be EDUCATING ALL PARENTS. Otherwise, we are still going to have the "closet co-sleeping parents" who refuse to admit that they sleep with their babies for fear of being judged or getting a visit from Child Protective Services.

My recommendation, like so many other INFORMED researchers, parents, and educators, is to educate parents on their choice of sleeping behaviors. If a parent chooses EITHER the crib or the adult bed for their infant, that is their choice, but we need to remember that babies have died under BOTH circumstances, so we need to educate ALL parents, regardless of their choice in sleeping with their baby or putting them in a crib.

In case you would like to make sure your sleeping choice is made the safest for your child, here is a list of safety measures for the adult bed and a list of safety measures for the crib.

To You Parents Who Do Co-Sleep:

If you feel like putting your baby in a crib is like putting your child behind bars...if you feel like your warmth and comfort throughout the night in the adult bed is much better for your baby...if you feel like it's more natural and safer to co-sleep, then do it!

Don't feel like you are backed into a corner by any so-called "child advocate" who wants to brow-beat you about co-sleeping with your child! It is the most natural thing to do, after all! Stay informed, follow all safety guidelines, and don't feel like you need to do something, like putting your child in a crib, just because of the scare tactics that have circulated for so long now.

Do what is comfortable for you and your family. And, if it comes down to it, arm yourself with the ammunition in this article to show how educated and informed you are about your decision to co-sleep!

Monday, March 18, 2013

New York City's Teen Pregnancy Campaign Creating a Stir

For many of us, it's too late to discuss the hardships that come along with teen pregnancy. Although teen pregnancy statistics have dropped to historic lows in 2010, according to the CDC, there are already thousands of teenage parents in the U.S. alone. In the CDC's brief, they stated that "fewer babies were born to teenagers in 2010 than in any year since the mid-1940s".

But, despite these figures, there are still already thousands of teen parents out there, and we have to think about these parents and children when we're making posters for teen pregnancy awareness campaigns.

Take a look at this poster, which is part of New York City's new teen pregnancy campaign:

Human Resources Administration
The advertisement above can be found around New York City in neighborhoods that have higher rates of teen pregnancy. “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen,” the poster is captioned.

And, this is another advertisement in the NYC campaign:

How do you think it makes teen parents feel when they see it? Or the parents of the teen parents...or even better, the children of teen parents?
Although they certainly capture the attention of passersby, they do not offer a bit of encouragement or information for teenagers! All they really do is tout negative stereotypes that are associated with teen pregnancy!

Going one step further with the stereotypes, Michael Powell of the New York Times mentioned in his column that teenage pregnancy is a "problem of poverty".So, Sarah Palin must be poverty stricken?

Of course, we don't want to encourage teen pregnancy, but this campaign seems to be going a bit overboard. And, the stereotypes that are associated with teen pregnancy? It can happen to anyone, and merely saying that teen pregnancy is a "problem of poverty" is misleading and misinforming.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Easter Baking With the Kids - 21 Easter Cupcake Ideas!

Easter is so wonderful in many different ways! Beyond the religious meaning of Easter, the marking of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the holiday also signifies to many of us that Spring is here! Easter events, like egg hunts and celebrations that include lots of food and beverages and deserts are also fun for families and children. And those with creative and artistic minds really enjoy the holiday baking that comes along with Easter.

Cupcakes are easy and fun little projects to bake and decorate with your children or grandchildren, and you don't even really have to have a creative mind of your own. As a matter of fact, you could simply bake some boxed cupcakes, as opposed to baking them from scratch (like I would) and then have fun with the decorating! Before you do that, though, run to the store for different types of candies, like jelly beans, licorice, gummies, sprinkles... don't forget the dried coconut pieces and food coloring to create grass!

Before you run to the store, you're going to want to have some decorating ideas. Those of you who cannot spark a creative thought without visual inspiration can simply look at these Easter cupcake decorating ideas, purchase the candies and the frosting required, and then mimic what you see.

Here are 30 awesome Easter cupcake ideas we've found around the web for you to enjoy making with your kids:

The Girl Who Ate Everything


Food Network

Disney Family

Cupcake Lovers

Mia's Pieces

Babble - Tory's Spelling's Cupcakes

Megan's Munchies

Sugar Bun

The Cupcake Blog

Hungry Happiness

Zen Cupcake

Pikkos House


Cupcakes Take the Cake

The Wicked Noodle

Simple Cake Decorating

My Family Loves It

Cupcake Lust

The Catholic Toolbox

Cupcake Wishes & Birthday Dreams


Enjoy decorating!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

10 St. Patrick's Day Cupcake Decorating Ideas

St. Patrick's Day is March 17th, so put on your green and get out the shamrocks in honor of the commemoration of Irish Christianity. If you're Christian, you may be celebrating the lifting of the Lenten eating and drinking restrictions that occurs on St Patrick's Day, so you can hurry up and start baking those adorable St. Patrick's Day cupcakes!

We've scoured the web for cute ideas for St. Patrick's Day cupcakes, and here's what we've come up with:

Canadian Home Trends

My Own Ideas

Alpha Mom

St. Patty's Day 2013

24/7 Moms


Magpie's Musings

The Third Boob

Clyde's Cupcake Magic

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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